Many people have heard of Seasonal Affective Disorder, or S.A.D. This is a mood disorder that affects people in the winter. The lack of sunlight often translates into the “winter blues”—or various severities of depression. I am reading a fabulous book right now called Two Bipolar Chicks: Tips for Living with Bipolar Disorder by Wendy K. Williamson and Honora Rose. The Chicks say that S.A.D. can work the other way for bipolar patients too; when the sunlight comes back in the spring we can feel hypo or full-blown manic symptoms connected to that change.
This spring and early summer I did go through a manic period. Thankfully it was short, but more severe than I have experienced in many years. Things have settled down, but the Chicks making this connection got me thinking of long-term maintenance strategies and how losing the routine can have dangerous effects.
I, like all Canadians, want to make the most of our short summer. Although I haven’t given in and had any beer, I have been very busy. I have been traveling a lot and my visits to the gym and yoga studio have become less frequent in favor of some sunshine, gelato or a patio burger.
At first these summer pleasures help mood troubles—quick fixes for a bad day. However, Bipolar patients like myself thrive on routine; even when it is lost for fun reasons, things get uncomfortable pretty quickly. To stay healthy with a mood disorder there is so much more than medication needed. It takes work to stay well; proper sleep, physical activity, healthy and regular meals, hobbies and an active social life. I have said on my blogs many times that all these things need to be in balance for anyone to feel healthy, let alone someone with a mood disorder.
However, when the sun is shining and life has been good for the last little while, we mental patients have a nasty habit of forgetting why they’ve been so good. Thinking we can push the routine to the point that it just isn’t one anymore without expecting some illness blow back is short sighted. Routine is just as important as medication to me and when I lose it, I always try to remember a wise doctor who once said to me:
“Why do my patients stop taking their medication when they feel better? They feel better because it’s working—it’s not a coincidence!”
Check out the Two Bipolar Chicks here: http://www.twobipolarchicks.com/
About Sarah Lindsay
Sarah Lindsay is in her mid-twenties and lives in Toronto with her boyfriend and their dog (who also has some anxiety issues). Sarah was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder in 2005 at the age of 16 and is still trying to figure it out. Follow Sarah’s story on HMC’s Supportive Minds Blog, or additionally you can follow her on Twitter, Facebook or check out her new website: SarahsMoods.com